Thursday, November 29, 2012

Barack Obama and Susan Rice are on the Wrong Side of History




As the New York Times reports:
More than 130 countries voted on Thursday to upgrade Palestine to a nonmember observer state of the United Nations, a triumph for Palestinian diplomacy and a sharp rebuke to the United States and Israel...  
The new status will give the Palestinians more tools to challenge Israel in international legal forums for its occupation activities in the West Bank, including settlement-building, and it helped bolster the Palestinian Authority, weakened after eight days of battle between its rival Hamas and Israel....  
Still, the General Assembly vote — 138 countries in favor, 9 opposed and 41 abstaining — showed impressive backing for the Palestinians at a difficult time. It was taken on the 65th anniversary of the vote to divide the former British mandate of Palestine into two states, one Jewish and one Arab, a vote Israel considers the international seal of approval for its birth...  
As expected, the vote won backing from a number of European countries, and was a rebuff to intense American and Israeli diplomacy. France, Spain, Italy and Switzerland all voted yes. Britain and Germany abstained. Apart from Canada, no major country joined the United States and Israel in voting no. The other opponents included Palau, Panama and Micronesia...  
Susan E. Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, was dismissive of the entire exercise. “Today’s grand pronouncements will soon fade,” she said. “And the Palestinian people will wake up tomorrow and find that little about their lives has changed, save that the prospects of a durable peace have only receded.” A major concern for the Americans is that the Palestinians may use their new status to try to join the International Criminal Court. That prospect particularly worries the Israelis, who fear that the Palestinians may press for an investigation of their practices in the occupied territories widely viewed as violations of international law.
During his flowery inauguration speech, President Obama talked about extending a hand to the Muslim world. He talked about promoting peace in the world. Obama said, "To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interests and mutual respect...We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist."

Instead of extending a hand to the Middle East, he launched more predator drones than George W. Bush and dropped bombs on innocent civilians. He passively allowed Israel to massacre and maim women and children in Gaza.

Today, as 138 countries voted in favor of recognizing Palestine as a nonmember observer state in the United Nations, the United States was 1 of only 9 nations to oppose recognizing Palestine. Through that vote, the United States voted to allow Israel to commit crimes against the Palestinian people with impunity.  It was a vote for imperialism.  It was a vote for injustice.  Oddly, we have the audacity to wonder why that region of the world is skeptical and hostile towards the United States.

Like the racists who sought to preserve apartheid in South Africa and like the segregationists who sought to protect Jim Crow in the American South, President Obama and Susan Rice are on the wrong side of history. I am appalled and disappointed, but not surprised.

This article is cross-posted on Jack and Jill Politics.

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